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Old 01-12-2020, 07:23 PM
ba4x ba4x is offline
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Default How can I sound like this? (Norman Blake video)

Hi folks,

I've watched this video countless times and really appreciate how Norman Blake is playing. The first thing that struck me - he's not afraid to takes his time. Of course his voice is sweeter than honey and his playing is just right. Now I've come to focus a bit on the tone he's getting. Any tips to sound like that, be it equipment or technique? The guitar sounds so "chimey" if that's the right word. He can strum up the high strings and get that wonderful bright chime sound, and it's somehow not annoying or clangy.

Some ideas I've got:
-Blake has got that gentle and relaxed touch, and he can control the volume from any string expertly.
-He's quoted as using mainly light strings (12-54 ish)
-Might be nickel strings in this video, just my speculation

I recently picked up an Eastman E20SS. It's such a nice and friendly guitar, with the shorter scale and the richness from the rosewood. I am feeling the Norman Blake vibe with this thing. I can't get the same chime, though. It's as if the high strings get buried in the overtones from the lower 4. This is with light 80/20s. I may switch back to light nickel bronze strings and see if it's closer.

The youtube comments mention he's playing a Nick Lucas Special. That would be a short scale (24.5 or 24.75"), deep body (4.5"), mahogany back and sides, 12 fret guitar. The guitar in the video however is a 14 fret, so not sure about that claim.

If anyone knows the exact guitar, strings, pick, etc, I'd love to hear it. Any tips or insights welcome, thank you!

Video Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJuhaNY9fqk
(Song starts around 2:00, the fancy guitar break is around 3:25)
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Last edited by ba4x; 01-12-2020 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 01-12-2020, 07:50 PM
Retired1 Retired1 is offline
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I believe he uses a relatively thinner pick - that would bring out more highs - try googling it
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:26 PM
Inyo Inyo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ba4x View Post

If anyone knows the exact guitar I'd love to hear it.
Video Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJuhaNY9fqk
That's a video from 1996, by the way.

Guitar looks like a Gibson L-00.

The video, embedded:



Good interview with Norman Blake over at https://www.premierguitar.com/articl...it-real?page=2 . Lists guitars, strings, and picks he uses.

Last edited by Inyo; 01-14-2020 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:37 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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I have been a fan of Normans since his "Back Home in Sulphur Springs" record. Long story short is it's him. He's had many different guitars and has had periods where he tweaked this or that. But he always sounded like Norman. He cross picks and yes his picks are stiff. Not necessarily thick. He grazes the strings or lightly plucks them and doesn't pick through the string. I never have found another guitarist that even came close to what Norman has. None. He's musical not technical, fast or flamboyant. When he is those things it's the music not an attempt by him. So just play your music and pick up licks and tricks here and there and nature will take care of itself.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:36 AM
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KevWind KevWind is offline
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Given the audio (probably from a cell phone) in that video is pretty bad. And not something I would want to emulate

With that said:


Besides what has already been said
Notice how relaxed his right hand is.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:18 AM
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Sound is not good. Playing is good.
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:05 PM
ba4x ba4x is offline
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Thanks very much guys for the information and insights.

Yes - it's clear in this recording the sound is colored heavily by the circumstances. He's playing through a PA into a big room, and some mediocere mic is picking it up from there. Probably a VHS camcorder, I think digital was just getting started around this time (1996). So we have the boom and reverb from the room, plus the low bandwidth from the mic. Still, I really enjoy the sound from this video.

Any speculation as to what sort of strings he's using? I have a feeling they're nickel wound, but it's just a hunch. Maybe any guesses would be too presumptuous.

Agreed - the secret ingredient is Norman Blake himself. His relaxed playing, his superb control of dynamics, and his melodic mindset. It is wonderful to witness. I'm on a Norman Blake kick, just picked up three of his LPs from the records store this week. Supposedly Billy Strings made it out to his house and filmed an interview/session with him, can't wait for it to come out.

Still, the gear nerd in me wants to know specifics. I can't play quite like him, but I can buy strings and guitars and play pretend
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:16 PM
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He certainly has wonderful technique! Love it!
Another artist to catch with similarly fluid flat pick style is Robert Bowlin (www.robertbowlin.com). Just a beautiful gift ( and a whole lot of playing)which is amazing to watch and listen to.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:40 AM
Inyo Inyo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ba4x View Post

Any speculation as to what sort of strings he's using? I have a feeling they're nickel wound.
Norman Blake sometimes uses electric strings on his acoustic guitars.

Too, Blake uses the following sets of strings on his acoustic guitars: GHS White Bronze, GHS Boomers Dynamite Alloy (electric--nickel plated), and Martin Retro (proprietary nickel-copper alloy).

So, the answer would be pretty much threefold: Conditionally, one yes--and, two sort ofs.

Here's why: (1) If the poster can prove that Blake is using exclusively GHS Boomers Dynamite Alloy (electric, nickel plated) in that video in original post--then, the answer is: yes.

(2): If the poster can prove that Blake is using exclusively GHS White Bronze (patented alloy 52--a nickel-iron blend) in that video in original post--then, the answer is: sort of.

And (3)--If the poster can prove that Blake is using exclusively Martin Retro (proprietary nickel-copper alloy)--then, the answer is: sort of.

Last edited by Inyo; 01-14-2020 at 11:52 AM.
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